Northern Ireland

EU referendum: David Cameron to visit NI to campaign to stay in 'reformed' EU

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Media captionPrime Minister David Cameron rejected calls not to hold the EU referendum in June

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to visit Northern Ireland to explain why he believes the UK will be better off remaining in a reformed EU.

But Northern Ireland's first minister has said it looks like her Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will campaign for the UK to leave the European Union.

Arlene Foster said she was disappointed by the deal between the prime minister and EU officials on UK's membership.

She said she will wait until talks end before making a final decision.

'Confusing issues'

However, Mrs Foster has joined the first ministers in Scotland and Wales in asking Mr Cameron not to hold the EU referendum in June.

She has signed a joint letter with Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones.

Their letter to Mr Cameron warns that with elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in May, an EU referendum campaign running at the same time "risks confusing issues at a moment when clarity is required".

Mrs Foster told the BBC it would subsume the issues surrounding May's Stormont Assembly vote.

Regarding her own party's position on EU membership, she said: "Given where we are today, it looks very much as if we will be on the coming out of Europe side.

Image caption Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party would wait until the EU negotiations concluded before making a final decision on its referendum campaign

"We are a Eurosceptic party and it certainly looks as if we're not going to get a deal which will bring any fundamental reforms in respect of our relationship with the European Union."

In the House of Commons on Wednesday, the prime minister dealt with questions from unionist MPs concerned about the cost of the UK's EU membership and concerns from Irish nationalists about the impact any withdrawal from the EU may have on cross-border relations on the island of Ireland.

South Down MP Margaret Ritchie, from the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) asked for a guarantee that the free movement of people across Ireland would continue in the event of a UK withdrawal from the EU.

Mr Cameron said he believed this would be addressed.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson challenged the prime minister to visit what he called Northern Ireland's "devastated fishing villages" and talk to others angered by the EU's policies.

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